Whale shark butchered for its fins in the Philippines04/03/2010 08:54:13 WWF Condemns Whale Shark Poachers, Calls for Enhanced Enforcement
February 2010. An 18-foot long Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) has been mutilated in the Philippines by having its fins cut off. The shark had been de-finned and was fighting for its life, and was found floating belly-up amidst the rough waters of Bahay Kambing, a sheltered. Its twin pairs of dorsal and pectoral fins had been sliced off - the soft, white flesh glistening in the morning rays. Knife-marks were evident all over its tail but, perhaps mercifully, it proved too thick to cut through.
"Scuba divers from Mabini's Acacia Resort first discovered the mutilated shark," recounts Casita Isabel resort owner Linda Reyes-Romualdez. "The shark was towed to nearby Caban cove, whose waters were more placid. Together with a fisheries patrol unit, volunteers splinted the shark by flanking it with bamboo poles and installing a net underneath to minimize further injuries. We wanted to ease its pain."
Sadly but unsurprisingly, the great sharks wounds proved too great and the shark, died the next day. The incident came right after the conclusion of the third Convention on Migratory Species for Sharks, The talks were held to safeguard shark populations in the Indo-Pacific region.
Fishermen from other districts
Once Hunted, Now Legally Protected
Protected since 1998
Whale sharks are now classified by the IUCN as vulnerable and are protected by Philippine law under Republic Act 8550 and Fisheries Administrative Order 193. The possession or slaughter of a single whale shark merits a maximum jail term of four years, coupled with a large fine and the cancellation of the offending party's fishing licenses. Whale sharks accidentally caught in fishing gear must be immediately released, while whale sharks which have drifted to shore must be surrendered to the nearest BFAR office. Manta rays (Manta birostris) are also covered by the order.
WWF calls for all sectors to step up enforcement efforts nationwide. Adds Palma, "More poachers are out there - and they will not be at rest just because we are."